The delicate balance of colors

(This year, I’ve pretty much stepped down from the competitions and challenges, and mostly just practiced on my instruments. Starting to get back into the composition a bit, but now I’m focusing more on the fine details, and also thinking a bit about “finding my voice” and all that.)

Anyway, here’s the current rendition of the first part of my rework of Slow Waves, a 2-hour challenge cello quartet piece from last year. I felt the original version was missing a section, and kind of abruptly just repeated the motif, so I extended that part a bit.

On the arrangement side, I’m still finding it a bit difficult to maintain the “proper” (whatever that is) balance between just supporting the soloist, and emphasizing the intended emotion. I basically think of the voice leading/chord progression in terms of a progression of colors, which needs to make logical sense in much the same way as a melody, but sometimes, I find myself dissatisfied, wondering if my ear just isn’t good enough for this approach, or if I’m overanalyzing things.

Still hearing some issues with this version, but I’m not sure if it’s actually “wrong,” or if it just doesn’t match my intentions.

This WIP is based on the original Slow Waves that I wrote for 2HAC 10. The plan is to extend it into a proper classical style piece, which I intend to record on the real cello eventually.

What we have here is an extended version of the “A section” (the only proper section in the original version), where I’ve added a bit of a detour, followed by a transposed variation of the motif. I felt that the original version kind of just “looped” abruptly back to the motif without finishing what it was doing.

There will be a proper B section, and this A section will probably be used twice, with different expression. I’m not entirely sure how to go about it, as I’m trying to update my process, but it will likely involve learning this bit on the cello, and then improvising around that.

Nuendo 11.0.40
Spitfire Solo Strings
Ozone 9


Sounds great David! Is the balance you’re looking for maybe giving the soloist a bit more breaks and letting the ensemble “paint” your harmonic/emotional color a bit bit more? Like, intro with the ensemble for a while to paint your color, then give it definition with the soloist, give the solo a rest, etc.?

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Thank you!

Well, yes - this part is 32 bars of mostly legato playing for the soloist! So, it’s certainly crossed my mind to break it up a bit. Maybe some notes (in particular, those that kind of fall behind the arrangement) don’t need to be played? One might also break it up into two 16 bar parts with some sort of “breather” in between. I kind of just got stuck on the idea of extending the original 16 bars “full on” solo with more of the same.

Anyway, the full piece is likely going to be at least five minutes, so there will probably be a more elaborate intro, and I have a more meditative B section in mind, possibly with little or no solo.

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